Culvertons Antiques

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Vintage embroidery - Textile restoration - Culvertons

10/09/2010 9:32 AM

Discovery of a Long Forgotten Treasure - Established in 1926, Saint Theresa’s occupies a group of three large Victorian houses in the heart of South Kensington, and since that time within its walls the Sisters Hospitallers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus a Catholic congregation founded by Saint Benito Menni, Maria Josefa Recio and Maria Angustias Gimenez in 1881 have cared for and supported the sick, disabled, elderly or suffers from dementia.

Maybe the discovery of carefully-wrapped parcels in chests in such a context would not be considered a surprising event: nuns are always taught to keep anything that might come in useful in the future. But what on this occasion was especially surprising for Sister Isabel Canton, the Superior and Care Manager of St. Teresa’s, was the content of one particular parcel unwrapped in the course of a spring-clean: an exquisite needlework, probably French dating from the late 19th or early 20th century with a crest or motif most probably to represent the convent or order in which it originally hung or belonged to. She was then faced with deciding what role it could play in the ongoing refurbishment of St Theresa’s, particularly how the ornate fabric could be supported and displayed to its best advantage.

Culvertons name was put forward to carry out the work and after talking to Sister Isabel and examining the needlework we suggested that the hand-stitching of a tube of linen to the backing material would be appropriate, allowing it to be suspended by a brass tube and affixed to the wall by decorative brackets, and as long as protective measures were put in place to combat moth and direct sunlight then the condition of the piece should remain stable.

It was not long before Culvertons completed the work and a date was set to meet Sister Isabel at St Theresa’s to return the altar piece and see first-hand the ongoing structural improvements being carried out, one of which was the creation of a glass fronted walkway allowing more natural light into the chapel and after an informative guided tour we both felt that, now it was ready for exhibition, this new discovery would complement this area, hanging it at the far end of the corridor creating a focal point for visitors and guests to admire for years to come.

Culvertons look forward to returning to St Theresa’s in the coming months to offer any further advice on conservation that’s needed and see the completed work and this beautiful needlework in situ.

For such a worthy cause, Culvertons in this case were more than happy to carry out all work free of charge.